Knowledge is Power

In “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” by Olaudah Equiano, the author alludes to many literary pieces throughout the telling of his narrative as his story rocks back and forth between extreme pendulum swings. Swings between doing good and then doing intensely awful. But throughout his entire journey, his intellect and wisdom are key components of his persona and overall way of being. He’s well educated and was fortunate enough to have former slave masters pay for an education. He picked up “tolerable English” by the middle of the narrative and shared a story where he communicated directly with the books he came across. He says he’d put the book to his ear and wait for a response. I find sharing this story to be significant to the overall love of literature he upholds. His love for literature may be directly correlated to the sum of his literary references. By Ch. V, the author finds himself once again in a bad pendulum swing dealing with a serious state of hopelessness and desperation. He recites the poem by Thomas Day “The Dying Negro” that fantasizes about death as a way of leaving suffering behind permanently. Reciting this poem was a form of grieving or purging the emotional baggage Equiano has carried up to this point. Up to this point, he has been in and out of many different situations and experiences. He has also met and lost many people along the way. But the only thing within him that remains fixed is his mind, his intellect and his attachment to learning. He’s able to reference so many literary pieces because he’s spent a lot of time dedicated to his studies, he even mentions learning languages other than English. He doesn’t “obsess” over English literature, it just might be all that he has.

Growing pride in learning the English language and English customs stems into a new form of self-empowerment for Equaino. He mentions how English is different and also a difficult language to pick up, but he managed to do so. Equaino managed to pick up English manners and customs to not be like the English but more to have a form a self-empowerment when engaging with the English. In simpler terms, Equiano was a soul that understood the power of knowledge and wisdom. Later in the narrative we are able to note how knowledge of the English language serves him well along his journey.


Brianna Barajas

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